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tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  October 7, 2009 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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participant and a primary witness has been eye-opening and jaw-dropping, and we are among the utterly lucky ones. a fact by itself is terrifying and infuriating. thus tonight for those we have met along the way, those with whom we have shared the last two months inside the belly of the beast, and for everyone in this country who will be here and soon "countdown" will be dedicated to health care reform in this country. i do not want to yell. i feel like screaming, but everyone is screaming. everybody is screaming this is about rights or freedom or socialism or the president or the future or the past or political failure or political success. we have all been screaming. i have been screaming and we have all been screaming because we do not want to face -- we cannot face what is at the heart of all of this. what is the unspoken essence of every moment of this debate. what about which we are truly driven to intense, inefabal
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emotions? because ultimately in screaming about health care reform pro or con, we are screaming about death. this ultimately is about death. about preventing it. about fighting it. about resisting it. about grabbing hold of anything and everything to forestall it and postpone it even though we know that the force will overcome us, always will, always has. health care is at its core about improving the odds of life in its struggle against death. of extending that game which we will all lose, each and every one of us, to eternity extending it another year or month or second. this is the primary directive of life. the essence of our will as human beings. all perhaps that is measurable of our souls. the will to live. and when we go to a doctor's office or hospital or storefront clinic in a ghetto, we express this fundamental cry of humanity. i want to live. i want my child to live. i want my life to live. i want my father to live. i want my neighbor to live. i want that stranger i do not know and never will know to live.
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this is elemental stuff. our atoms in action. our survival mode in charge. tamper with this and you are tampering with us. so we yell and scream and try to put it all into political context or expand it to some great issue of societal freedom or dress it up in something that would be otherwise farcical like a death panel. but this issue needs no expansion. this issue is big enough as it is. this is already life and death. of all of the politicians of the previous century, none fought harder to prevent an administration that promised to involve itself in health care from ever gaining power than in england's winston churchill. he equated his opponents to the party that sought to introduce the national health to the gestapo, to the germans that he and we had just
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beaten just as those opposing reform now have been invoking nazis as infrequently and as falsely as if they were invoking zombies. churchill cost himself the election because he can't realize he was playing something people were pretty damn serious about. irony this. because a decade earlier, churchill made the best argument ever for government health care, though he didn't realize it. he was debating that the british government could not increase expenditures on military expenses unless the voters specifically authorized it. just as today's opponents of reform, they claim the voters of today spoke to themselves 11 months ago. churchill's argument was this, quote, i have heard it said that the government had no mandate. such a doctrine is wholly inadmissible. the responsibility for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. and there is the essence of what this is, what on the eternal list of priorities proceeds
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health? what more obvious role could government have than the defense of life of each citizen? we cannot stop every germ that seeks to harm us any more than we can stop every person that seeks to harm us but we can try. and government's essential role in that effort, facilitate it, reduce its costs, broaden availability, improve my health and yours seems ultimately self-explanatory. we want to live. what is government for if not to help us do so? indeed, mr. churchill, the responsibility for public safety is absolute and requires no mandate and yet today at this hour somebody, somewhere in this country, is arguing against or protesting against or yelling against health care reform because the subject is really life and death and they're scared and they've been scared and they've been misled by the overly simple words of one side and misinformed by the overly complex words of the other side and that one person -- at least that one person who is tonight
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so scared that somehow sickness and pain and death will come sooner to them because of reform they do not understand, that one person if his or her argument is successful and reform is again quashed, that one person arguing against health care reform will die sooner because they argued against health care reform. just as you and i have largely failed to understand the terror, the fear of death that underlies this debate in the minds of so many, the leadership of the reform effort has also failed to understand it and failed to lead, not just in practical terms but in rhetorical ones. if you did not know what something called the public option was, you might instinctively oppose it. option? my health care is optional? doesn't that mean it can go away somehow? doesn't that mean when i need it, it will not be there? doesn't it mean someone is trying to take it away from me? and this insurance is public, meaning i might give control to the government, no private, just public? and so in seconds with mental
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reflexes as acute and natural as any mechanism of fight or flight, something that will expand health care and reduce its costs, something that will help fight death and pain becomes misunderstood as exactly the opposite. you can blame the one doing the misunderstanding all you want but the essence of communication is reducing the chance of misunderstanding and it the term the public option has been as useless and full of holes and self-defeating as the term global warming. it is political speak. it is legal ease. the it is designed not for the recipient but for the speaker. it is the ego of the informed strutting down the street and saying look at me, i talk smart. just as global warming is really bad climate change, the public option is in broad essence medicare for everybody. frame it that way, sell it that way and it doesn't sound like a threat turning the solid insurance which people have for better or worse into something optional and turning anything private into everything public.
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once you said medicare for everybody there would be as much to explain if you were under 65 you would pay for it. you wouldn't have to buy it. you wouldn't have to change from whatever you have now. there are just as many caveats. the intent of this would be clearer. much of the criticism of health care reform is coming from those who have or are about to get medicare and in confusion and fear and in the kind of indescribable realization that we're far closer to the end than we are to the beginning. there are suddenly mortally afraid health care reform will take it away from them. medicare for everybody may not be literally true but instead of terrifying, it would be reassuring and the explanations and the caveats would be listened to and not shouted down as anger and fear. fear, remember, of death. fear that swells up inside. this rhetorical ship, of course, has sailed. and, frankly, those leading the effort to reform health care have been so outflanked, out-argued,
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out-terrorized by its opponents that reflexes seem shot. they are to use to mr. lincoln's words about general rosecrantz, frozen in place like a duck hit on the head. and yet even from the town halls of august there were opponents of health care reform responding to t.e.a. partyists and the generally confused in voices calm with general empathy asking what are you afraid of? what do you think we can do to improve health care? setting aside the professional protesters, the shameless mercenaries of this equation, the larouch bags and hired guns. results were uniform and productive. dialogue, conversation, admission of fear, admission we're talking about pain and sickness and life and death. admission that we're seeking the same things and that this should not be left to the politicians who almost to a man reek of corruption of campaign
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contributions from the very monopolies they are trying to control. something else would come up. something you never hear included in the debate about reform and even in the debate over the remorseless rapaciousness of companies that are forever increasing premiums and deductibles while reducing what they give back to the person who is sick. what you never hear about is the person who is sick. have you ever stayed overnight in the hospital? all day to suggest that in a give been year only one in ten of us do. it's not a universal experience. could you sleep in a hospital? with constant noise, with sharing a room with strangers perhaps, with contemplating mortality and more immediately the fog of germs in the place with staff infections and mrsa and nursing staffs cut to the minimum and overworked doctors and medical record keeping so primitive it might as well be done on blackboards and the bills, what about the person who is sick and the bills. how are they supposed to get better while they sit inside a giant cash register? how do you heal? how do you kill a cancer when the meter is running so loudly
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you can hear it? when a system of health care has been so refined, so perfected as to find a way to charge for almost everything and to reimburse for almost nothing. how does the person who is sick not worry always, always, about where he's going to get the money? and how is somebody worrying always about where he's going get money supposed to also get better? our neighbor in that hospital bed hoping tonight half for health and half for money to pay for it is in better shape than 1 in 22 americans who might be watching this right now and who will not be with us tomorrow, because they will die, because they do not have insurance. i will pick it up there and move onto the question of whether health care is not reformed we should force the issue by bailing out of this stylized blackmail that is insurance. we can do the small things, the big things, just about everything...
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some time around 1:00 in the morning on saturday in august this year suffered from knee problems, lack of appetite and tried to use the portable urinal he kept by his bed. to limit those middle of the night trips to the toilet. sounds gross, i know. certainly not when the alternative is a 20-minute ordeal of struggling to the bathroom wondering what you'll do if you don't make it in time. that night there was an additional problem. he was having trouble going. he tried to adjust his position sitting on the edge of the bed and the mattress shifted underneath him and deposited him gently on the floor. he might have been in nothing more threatening in a seated position there. with his knees as bad as they are, there was almost no chance he would get out of it without help. for reasons that would later become apparent, my father would
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pretend to himself that wasn't true. he decided to believe that he would soon be feeling better and would be able to get up on his own. he thinks he dozed much of the night. as it got light out, he realized his cell phone was within grasp and he called me. not to say he was in trouble. never mentioned it. but only about the move we were planning for him to his own place closer to me. he never mentioned to me the precariousness of his position. he had now been stuck on the floor for about seven hours. sometime in the afternoon between the dehydration and exhaustion, the hallucinations started. he heard my sister and her family in the hallway outside his bedroom. he could feel the vibration of the footsteps of his grandkids running up and down. in a startling tribute to the imagination's ability to make an hallucination like this one completely self-contained and impervious to logic, he heard his daughter say, don't bother grandpa. he's resting. he thinks he smelled cooking. my sister and her kids were in fact in upstate new york at the time. my dad found himself
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increasingly angry and finally after midnight on the morning of sunday, august 23rd, he phoned her and demanded to know why she had been in the house without giving him the courtesy of peeking her head in to see if he was all right. only after her repeated insistences that she had been and was 330 miles and had been all day did reality regain control. my father apologized. my sister called the neighbor. the neighbor called the cops. there was never an official diagnosis of just that one incident that night. i've gone into such excruciating detail because of what i was told that night by the doctors at the er, where which i joined my father, and what i have been told by other health professionals since. the hallucinations had been provoked by dehydration, and if not renal failure per se, temporary shutdown of the kidneys. by the time he got there, it had been more than 24 hours since he had triggered this cascade of problems by trying to adjust the position of his body so he could urinate. and still he had not done so.
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my father's kidneys were in trouble. considering the kidney disease was what killed his father, this was very bad news. we heard just yesterday about kidneys and insurance. the waddington brothers, travis of new york, michael of santa fe. "the new york times" reported their dad, david, needed a kidney transplant because of congenital renal disease. each of the sons was ready to donate of course but they were warned not even to get tested to see if they matched because if they did, transplant or not, they would be denied insurance for the rest of their lives because they might test positive for the same congenitive renal disease that threatened their father, and thus they would have a pre-existing condition. and still the waddingtons and their dad and my dad were all luckier than at least 45,000 americans. because as discovered in a new study conducted by harvard university and cambridge health alliance that's how many of us are dying each year because we don't have insurance.
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the number is horrible. when it's contrasted to what faced my father that night, it is unforgivable because as cambridge's summary of the findings put it, deaths associated with lack of health insurance now exceed those caused by many common killers such as kidney disease. my father had less to fear that night from bad kidneys than if he hadn't had insurance. and yet we let this continue. you and i, this society, our country, democrats and republicans, this is the study that congressman from florida quoted about which the republicans demand an apology when they should have been standing there shrieking demanding that we fix this. uninsured working age americans have a 40% higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts. people, in short, are dying for lack of money. dying as surely as they did when charles dickens wrote about the
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same problem when he couldn't get sufficient medical care for his affliction of the underprivileged suffering not just by death but the comfortable boot through the streets of london. the book was called "a christmas carol." the kid was tiny tim. it was published on the 19th of december 1843. it is 166 years later and the problem is not only still with us, it is getting worse. the mortality rate among americans under the age of 65 who are uninsured is 40% higher than those with insurance. in 1993, a similar study found the difference was only 25%. we are moving backwards. we are letting people die because they do not have insurance? what's worst is that barring meaningful health care reform now, this will only grow. the difference between the surveys from 1993 and now suggest this fatal insurance gap is growing by about 1% per year.
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your chances of dying because you don't have insurance are now 40% higher than those who have it. by extrapolation, three years from now your chances will be 43% higher. your chances of dying because you used to smoke compared to those who never smoked, are only 42% higher. you heard that right. at the current rate in 2012 you will be more fortunate, more secure, more long lived if you used to smoke than if you don't have insurance. it is mind-boggling and mindless. this is the country you want? this is the country you will accept? do those other people in this country have meaning to you or are they just extras in your movies, background in your painting? choruses in your solo? without access to insurance for all of us and the only way we get it is with the government supplying the gaps just like it does in flood insurance for god's sake. that fatal gap will just keep growing.
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the 45% higher likelihood of death for the uninsured compared to the insured by 2014. by 2022, the figure will be 53% higher. 53%. in the 1840s as dickens wrote "a christmas carol" at a time we look back with horror, the city of manchester in england conditioned a crude study in mortality amongst its residents. a doctor p.n. holland characterized the streets in man chest near three classes. when he compared the death rate in the first class houses in the first class streets to the death rate in the second class houses in the third class streets, he found morality in those worst locations was 53% higher. if we do not reverse this trend in 14 year's time we will not be living in the america of 2022. the shadows of the things that maybe tell us that we will instead be living in an insurance-driven version of the
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dekeynesian england of 1843 again. god bless us, every one. tonight's special comment continues after this. into components. the first-ever hs hybrid. only from lexus. a tornado hits, air life denver takes off... their night-vision goggles keeping
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i told my father the other night the insurance i want to get for him and me is corporate owned life insurance. c.o.l.i., like e. coli. how fitting. with or without your consent your employer can take out life insurance on you and everyone that works for it.
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who gets the money when you all die? your employer does. dad pointed out that theoretically this would give them motivation to kill you. that would be for the same reason as michael moore points out in his new movie "capitalism a love story" that you can't buy fire insurance on the house of the guy who lives next door to you. golly gee, that's right, suddenly you'd have a motive to burn down his house. and the world is already too much like that symbolically to make it a little bit like that in reality. it's really unlikely that even the most evil corporation would think of killing you to get a payout from the e. coli insurance plan. it exists for much more mundane and passive reasons. you're going to die anyway, and the tax laws of this country is such that if your company has 100,000 employees, it can take out small, whole life policies on everybody and just let the ac aca accuarticle tables do the work for it. 10,000 bucks here. 20,000 there. maybe 50,000 back here and all
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of it is tax exempt. on your employer can borrow the money to pay premiums on secret insurance it has on you and the interest on that loan is tax deductible. and your employer can in essence overpay the premium and the extra money is called cash value. it can be stuck into a pension benefit plan or other product of the mad, mad world of accounting and cash value is also tax deferred. it can be returned to your employer later as a tax-free loan. if your employer goes bankrupt, the cash value in those insurance policies is protected by the tax laws from creditors. in short, your employer can get a tax deductible loan to buy insurance on you they didn't mean to tell you about and the money is tax deferred and then tax free and then the payoff is tax exemt, and when the company dies, the boss somehow gets to keep the money even if somehow, you the guy the boss has taken out an insurance policy, you happen to be one of the creditors, tough. and even though it's based on insurance on your health and
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your life, all that tax free tax exempt tax deferred money does not go to you, it also does not go to the government. and so if we really are ever going to do anything about federally supported health care as an alternative to private insurers, there's that much less tax money to do it with. and some of the money that isn't going to you, that isn't going to the government, it is going to strengthen the already monolithic insurance companies. just in case this isn't a sweet enough deal, the government is almost silent about telling that employer of yours what kind of health insurance it must give you. and year after year the companies get smarter and more audacious about cutting what your health insurance covers or cutting the number of employees the health insurance covers or both. and if that is still not sweet enough, there's also something called the national association of insurance and financial advisers. it has a political action committee. ifapac. and last year it had over $1 million of campaign money to buy politicians and you would be
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amazed how many of them you can buy with even $1 million. these are the same people who are not only influencing the health care debate, spending more than a million dollars a day to defeat reform, they are the same people who by raising your premiums and cutting your reimbursements and manipulating prices at hospitals and doctor's office for everything from tongue depressors to enemas they decide what health care you get, how much you pay for it and whether they would rather not see you get it. it is your skin literally and it is the hands of people, insurance companies, who can still make money by betting against your good health. there's only one comfort here and it's cold indeed. profit while you can, insurers. sickness and death wait not just for your customer. they also wait for you and they
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are double parked. the doctor that treats you and the pharmacists that makes you pay through the nose are not your enemies in this. it proves they are as much victims as you and i are. the time has come to realign this battle here so it is not just us versus the entire medical and health care establishment. it is us and the doctors and the nurses and the pharmacists and maybe even some of the hospitals against the real enemy, the insurance companies. the insurance companies who are right now at war against america. that's where i'll pick it up when this special comment continues. we have all this energy here in the u.s. we have wind. we have solar, obviously. we have lots of oil. i think natural gas is part of the energy mix of the future. i think we have the can-do. we have the capability. we have the technology. the solutions are here. we just need to find them here.
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dr. albert sabin was by his own description pretty full of himself after he temporarily managed to stop the testing of the polio vaccine after a bad batch sickened and killed people early in the first test in the early 1950s. sabin recounted this in a tv interview in the '80s. he was weeping. he convinced himself that the vaccine, the inactivated pole polio vaccine, was used instead of the live polio vaccine for his efforts.
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irrelevant to his efforts. he was weeping as he recounted this. there was nothing wrong with the vaccine. one batch was improperly handled and manufactured. he and others delayed all further testing for weeks. sabe enwas weeping as he remembered that. for in 1983, dr. sabin had contracted a rare disease of his own. surgeons operated, relieved the intense pain and muscle weakness, and then ten days later it came back, ten times worse. enough for him to be yelling and crying virtually all the time. the pain, he said, "made me want to die." dr. albert sabin suddenly remembered that the stopping of the salt vaccines had led to death, death of children. more immediately it led to pain, physical and emotional, for the children and the parents. he said it had not occurred to him then the first thing doctors must do, first thing health care system must do, is stop pain. he vowed to spend the rest of his life relieving pain. his own searing agony and analysis, gradually, inexplicably faded.
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they moved my father this afternoon. it was agony for him. agony enough that he could barely see us. agony enough they gave him all of the painkiller he could handle and he couldn't talk anymore. makes me wonder what it would be like if he was going through that and i was watching it wondering if we could afford the painkillers or that hospital or doctors or any treatment at all. and what kind of society we live in where millions of us face questions like that and politicians glibly talk about increments where they reshape the new law that is supposed to help the untreated due to money into laws that take more money out of our pockets and give it to the corporations who are profiting off health care without attributing one second to the relief of pain or curing of the disease, the pimps of the equation, taking their 20% off the top, the health insurance cartel. how would our politicians react if there were millions of americans in pain getting insufficient care to relieve
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that pain because of interference from insurance corporations and those millions had just been injured in a natural disaster or an attack on this country? how fast would the politicians rush their portable podiums to the driveways outside of the emergency rooms? how quickly would the money come? you know the answer. and you know what the answers have been about rushing to help those millions of americans in pain tonight, attacked not by another country or a terrorist or even a flood, but attacked merely by life. half of the politicians are dedicated to protecting the corporations, against having to help our relatives and our neighbors in pain. the other half are calculating how far they can anger our insurance overlords before our insurance overlords stop contributing to their campaigns. might all their ceos, might all of the wavering political frauds get ten minutes of dr. sabin's pain, or my father's. that's another part of the story that i just haven't seen, the doctors. for all of the jokes over all of the years, these guys really are
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on our side, especially the ones in the hospitals, especially the ones without skills you would heal just as fast in a bowling alley than the best medical center. a man who took out my appendix, a messy, dangerous job, in which i recovered fast enough i only missed four days of work and had three scars, one of which i couldn't find. i wrote all of the checks. i know mouch he got out of the whole price. about 10%. a very good friend of mine is a doctor in california. he wrote me about all of this the other day. you can see, he said, why doctors want to make a living or cover increasing costs, labor overhead, et cetera, have only one choice, see more patients, spend less time, answer fewer calls, because there is no other way to increase revenue. plus, he wrote, if you order tests, patients think they are getting better care and doctors thinking that testing saves them time in thinking or talking with people. you have chest pain, instead of asking you questions, why don't we go ahead and do this stress test that i get paid much more
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than some little office visit to do and make sure it's not your heart. and so like us the doctors are slaves to insurance. that's not even talking about malpractice. we have to help them on that. maybe we do need to cap damages. we do it where everybody maybe benefits. you set up the cap wherever it works out to be now and you lower each year by exactly how much the entire cost of a patient's health care is lowered in this country. give incentives to doctors to make health care affordable for everybody. and to help the thinking long-term. people do want to discuss their end of life preferences. and doctors should be paid to have these discussions. and then he wrote something that hadn't occurred to me. we spend a lot of money on doing things that people would not have wanted us to do to them. oh, that hit home. my mother died in the spring. bless her.
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she lived without symptoms until nearly two weeks before she went and we had all talked about what to do and when to do it and what not to do and so when they said there's breast cancer and there's five lesions in her brain and there's nothing we can do that will wake her but we can do a lot to lessen her pain or we can do things that might extend her life and also won't cure her and also won't wake her but might be hurting her, we can't tell. it took five seconds to decide. and then i thought of the people that never had that discussion with their mother or father. who don't know that those are the choices they might face. how it might help to have a doctor who says, here it is. you say, doc, thanks. i decided i want you to keep me alive forever even if i'm suffering and comatose. now he can send you a bill and you can have insurance pay you back for it. so your mother and you will know when the time comes exactly what each choice would bring. and some buffoon decided to call that a death panel.
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a list of preventible deaths, diabetes, stroke, ulcers, pneumonia, we're 19th in the world. canada is 6th. england, 16th. we're 19th. portugal is 18th. you're better off in portugal, death panels? we have them now. they're called wellpoint and cigna and united health care and all of the rest. ask not for whom the insurance companies' cash register bell stoles. it tolls for thee. what you and i might yet be able to do about all of this when my special comment continues. t's n. it's not the new audi. what it is... is impossible to resist. the new twenty-ten lacrosse from buick. it's the new class of world class.
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so far we covered the collective unwillingness that this is not a health care debate but we're talking ultimately about pain and life and death. and i have recapped my own father's trip through our health care system. so what do we do about that health care system? great gm brands. we can do the small things, the big things, just about everything... right inside your gm dealership. find out more at when she started forgetting things, i was hoping it was nothing. grandma! what a nice surprise! mom, it's sunday. that's when i knew i couldn't wait. mom's doctor said these were signs of alzheimer's, a type of dementia, and that prescription aricept could help. he said it's the only treatment proven effective... for all stages of alzheimer's. studies showed aricept slows the progression...
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i do not know who the two woman were but they are indelibly burned into my memory now. they stood outside on a crisp new york morning last week. they were wearing lab coats. they were leaning against what those coats told me was their place of employment. a research center at memorial sloan kettering cancer center. the women in the cancer researcher lab coats were smoking cigarettes. i've seen a lot of startling things in my more than 40 days
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and 40 nights alongside my ailing father inside this nation's fractured health care system, but nothing seemed to me to better futilize the utility, the ram your head inside the futility, of this which has broken free from human control but has enslaved us. 23 stories tall. built partly with a $100 million gift from the publisher of a "the new york daily news" and another u.s. news magazine, and two employees were standing in front smoking. that's not the only picture that haunts my dreams. a man walking out of another hospital. casual. purposeful. in control. the red stitches on the left side of his shaved head outlining a space as big as a large potato and an inch higher than the rest of his skull. i don't any if he was getting better or getting worse. i don't know if he had just gotten good news or bad. i don't know tonight if he's healthy or dead. months ago i was in a pharmacy. a woman ahead of me, obviously a
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figure to the young pharmacist in the counter, taking in the information, you have maxed out your prescriptions on that insurance, the professional said slowly. i can't give it to you. customer shook her head in resignation. it was like the mid evil courts of chancery, like if you were poor, you could hope that when they picked the handful of cases to be heard that year, they would somehow pick yours. if they didn't, you could try again next year or in some cases every year for 20 next years. the woman who needed the prescription spoke even more slowly than the pharmacist just had. she had almost no hope in her voice. try the cigna please. another drugstore late at night and the pharmacist there was a friend of mine. you have to do something about this, he said loudly, as he handed me my refill. and he reached for somebody else's prescription. you see this? anti-fungal cream. i just filled this. you know what this costs wholesale? $4. you know what i have to sell it for? $263. i sell it for less and i get
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fired and maybe we lose our license. and then this. last saturday i leave my father 24 hours after serious surgery that probably saved his life, serious enough he was still under sedation and it would be another 24 hours before he knew where he was or who i was. and i knew he was okay, because i got him the best care in the world. literally, his surgeon is considered one of the top five guys in his field alive today. even i can tell you absolutely nailed the operation. and i know that after my father was to wake up when post-operative fluids got into his lungs and he had trouble breathing and inhaled after every word he would get a drug called lasix that would start to drain the fluids and within five minutes he would be breathing easier and in 15, it would be like nothing was ever wrong. and this was just one of 20 drugs they can use on him not just to make him better long-term but just as importantly and twice as imperatively to stop his pain short term. and i marvel that we have come so far that you can barely take care of your life like he would admit he has for 80 years.
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you can even be as dumb as those two women outside the cancer research center smoking away and there's still a kaleidoscope of drugs and therapies and nurses and dying n and psychiatrists and x-ray techs and surgeons and all of them capable of undoing the pain and curing sickness and forestalling death. as i walk down the hallway from my dad's room i allowed myself a brief moment of selfishness. i'm sorry that i'm happy that i can spend whatever it takes to help my dad get better to keep him around. maybe i can atone for that selfishness by making this case tonight to you. to whoever sees this that we have to make these wonders of life and health and peace of mind and control of pain available to everybody and this is boiling in my brain that day. i take the shortcut out to the street through the emergency room and that's when i hear my name called. it's a man roughly my age and he looks worried to death and really familiar. i haven't seen him in 32 years. the nephew of the two brothers from brooklyn who used to run
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the baseball card shows when we were both kids. his uncles were businessmen but he, like me, we were the kids collecting mostly for the fun of it. it's amazing to see him again. joyous almost for the sake of continuity that the accident of us running into each other provides to us both. and he asks what i'm doing there. i tell him. he smiles. my father used to go to those card shows with me. mike remembers him. then i ask mike why he's there. my daughter's in icu, he says, three weeks now. the worried look returns to his face. lyme disease. it's one thing, they knock that down, and then it's another. there's a brief pause. tomorrow i will have to sell my farm. did you know i had a farm? i don't have to ask why. he then goes the next step. you want to buy my card collection? i got some great stuff. we must reform a system that allows my father to get better care doesn't let my father get better
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care than yours does or better care than mike's daughter because of the accident of life that i make more money than he does or my checkbook could hold out longer than his does or yours does as bills come endlessly like an evil version of the enchanted water buckets from fantasia. resources exist for my father and yours to get the same treatment, to have the same chance and to both not have to lie worrying about whether they can afford to live. afford to live. are we at that point? are we so heartless that we let the rich live and the poor die and everybody in between become racked with fear not of disease but of deductibles. right now, right now someone's father is dying because they don't have that dollar to spend. and the means by which the playing field is leveled and the costs that are just as inflated to me as they are to you are reduced and the money that i then don't have to spend anymore on saving my father can go instead to saving your father. that's called health care reform. death is the issue. how can we not be united against death?
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i want my government helping my father to fight death. i want my government to spend taxpayer money to help my father fight to live. i want my government to spend taxpayer money to help your father fight to live. i want to spend my money first on fighting death. not on war. not on banks. not on high-speed rail. spend our money. spend my money first on the chance to live. and we must be unanimous in this. not to achieve some political triumph for one side against the other but to save the man or the woman or the child who will be dead by morning in this country, in this century, on our watch because we're not spending that money tonight. i will not settle for a compromise bill. i will extend my hand to those who are scared of the inevitability of death and those who are told they are scared of reform, those who have been exploited by the others, paid or forced to defend the status quo. we must recognize the enemy here.
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it's an enemy capable of perverting reform meant to you and me into its own atm that mandates only that more of us become the slaves to the insurance company and money interests that bled their customers white and used their customers' money to buy the system, to buy the politicians, to buy the press. it cannot now even be checked by government. ordinarily the solution would be obvious. we would have to do it for the government. we would have to bring insurance companies to their knees to organize and to pick a date to say enough. at a given hour and given day stop paying premiums. an insurance strike. the insurance company strangle hold on us is so complete right now that lives would be risked. lives would be lost by the act of protest. what parents could risk the cancellation of their child's insurance? what adult could risk giving his insurer the chance to claim that everything wrong with him on the day of an insurance strike was now suddenly a pre-existing
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condition, even as the payouts move inexorably downwards to being less than what you have paid in over the years. we are such surfs to the insurance companies, just to invoke the true spirit of the found of this nation is to give them more power and not less. i propose tonight one act with two purposes. i propose, we, all of us, embrace the selfless individuals at the national association of free clinics. you know them. they conducted the mass health care free clinic. they served 1,500 people. i want one every week in principle cities of the states of the six senators key to defeating a filibuster against health care reform in the senate. i want senators lincoln and pryor to see what health care and poverty is really like in little rock. i want senator baucus to see it in butte. i want senator landrow to see it in baton rouge and senator reid to see it in las vegas. i'll donate. how much will you donate? we enable thousands of our neighbors to have just a portion of the bounty of good health and
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we make a statement to the politicians, forgive me william jennings brian, you shall not press down upon the brow of america this crown of insurance. you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of blue. we think these events will be firmed up presently. you'll be able to link from our website. trust me, i will remind you. because in one party in one demographic in one protest movement we're all brothers and sisters. we are united in membership in the party that insists that every chance at life be afforded to every american seeking that chance. we are united in membership in the party that insists on the right of everyone to the startling transcended blessings to the technological advance of medical science. we're united in the membership for life and against death and is for lower premiums, that is against higher deductibles, that is for the peace of mind that can be provided only by the elimination of the fear that
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costs will decide whether we live or we die. because that's the point, isn't it? it is hard enough to recover to fight past pain and to stave off death if just for a season or a week or a day. it is so hard that eventually for you, for me, for this president, for these blue dogs, for these protesters, it is so hard to recover that for all of us there will come a time when we will not recover so why are we making it harder? on behalf of both of the olbermanns, good night and good luck. and now here's my dear friend, rachel maddow.
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good evening, rachel. >> thank you, keith. very hard act to follow. thanks. we begin our show tonight with extreme pressure being applied to democrats in washington from the left. you have just heard the program length special comment from keith olbermann on msnbc's "countdown" intended obviously to dramatically increase political pressure for health care reform. he's specifically talking about a technique that would increase political pressure on six senate democrats who are key to allowing a vote on health reform. the proposal, as keith said, is to hold massive free health clinics weekly in the capital cities of the states represented by these six key democratic senators. senators blanche lincoln and mark pryor of arkansas. senator max baucus of montana. senator ben nelson of nebraska. senator mary landrieu of louisiana, and senate majority leader harry reid of nevada.